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List of country name etymologies

List of country name etymologies
See also: List of subnational name etymologies, Placename etymology

  • Afghanistan - "land of the allied tribes"
  • Albania - land of the highlanders. Native name Shqipėria means "land of the eagles".
  • Argentina - "silver" (as Rio de la Plata)
  • Australia - from "unknown southern land" (Latin - terra australis incognita)
  • Austria - "eastern kingdom", c.f. modern German Österreich
  • Azerbaijan - "land of fire" (from surface fires on ancient oil pools; its ancient name Atropatene became Azerbaijan in Arabic)
  • Belarus - "White Ruthenia" (the supposed meaning of "White Russia" is a historical misconception)
  • Belgium - from the name of a Celtic tribe, the Belgae.
  • Bhutan - land of the Bhotia[?]
  • Brazil - from the type of wood, and the Gaelic myth of the magical island of Hy Brasil[?]
  • Britain - "painted"; a reference to the original inhabitants of the islands use of body paint and tattoos; may also derive from the Celtic goddess Brigid
  • Bolivia - from Simon Bolivar
  • Bulgaria - "land of the tribe formed of many tribes", "Bulg" from a root meaning "mixed"
  • Burkina Faso - "land of upright people" or "land of honest men"
  • Cameroon - from Portuguese for "prawns" or "shrimp"
  • Canada - "little settlement" or "the village" in Algonquian
  • Chile - "the depths"
  • China - after the Qin Dynasty (see also: China in world languages)
  • Colombia - after "Christopher Columbus"
  • Costa Rica - "rich coast"
  • Croatia - *unknown, but probable Sarmatian[?] in origin
  • Cuba - from "Cubanacan" 'center place'
  • Denmark - from PIE *dhen "low" or 'flat' and Germanic "mark" - "border land" and/or "border forest". Name used by the ancient Goths to describe the Forest separating Gothland from (then Danish) Scania.
  • Druk Yul[?] (Bhutan) land of the thunder dragon, land of thunder, or land of the dragon.
  • Ecuador - "equator"
  • El Salvador - "the saviour" named for Jesus Christ.
  • Egypt - "temple of the soul of Ptah"
  • Estonia - from the Germanic "eastern way". Usually wrongfully derived from "Aestia" of the ancient Greek writings, Aestia actually being modern Masuria in Poland, and probably derived from a baltic root meaning "speckled", the land being 'speckled' with Lakes.
  • Finland - from the Germanic Fennland, probably from a Germanic root meaning "wanderers". Suomi the name the natives use, derives from the Baltic root for "land".
  • France - "land of the Franks", literally "land of the free men". The region had earlier been known as Gallia (Gaul), from the name of a Celtic tribe.
  • Germany
    • Germany - "land of the spear men" from the Germanic "Gar" "spear".
    • Allemagne - "land of all the men"
    • Deutschland - "land of the people"
    • Nemetsy - "land of the mute" (where "mute" is a metaphor for "those who do not speak our language")
  • Greece - from the name of a certain region, and Hellas[?] "land of light"
  • Honduras - "depths"
  • Hungary - "people of the 10 spears." In other words, "alliance of the ten tribes".
  • Iceland - "land of ice"
  • India - After the river Indus (in Hindi, Bharat - After the king of an old Vedic tribe)
  • Indonesia - "Indian Islands"
  • Iran - "land of the Aryans[?]" or "land of the free".
  • Iraq - "between the rivers"
  • Ireland - after Eire, an ancient fertility goddess. Often mistakenly derived as "Land of Iron"
  • Israel - an alternative name for the biblical patriarch Jacob, literally "struggled with God."
  • Italy - perhaps "son of the bull god" or "calf god"
  • Japan - Chinese "origin of the sun." Native name Nihon has same meaning
  • Korea - after the Goryeo Dynasty
  • Liechtenstein - "light stone" ('light' as in weight rather than brightness)
  • Luxembourg - (Celtic 'Lucilem' "small" and Germanic 'burg' "castle", lucilemburrugh) 'little castle'
  • Malaysia - land of the Malay people[?]
  • Malta - "refuge". The term may have been kept long in currency by the existence of the Greek word 'melitta' or "honey", the name of the island to the ancients, and also a major export from the island during those centuries.
  • Mexico - after the Mexica[?] branch of the Aztecs
  • Moldova - from the German root "molde" "open-pit mine", German immigrants once forming the community of miners in the region.
  • Monaco - "himself alone" a reference to the Greek god Hercules
  • Montenegro - Named by Venetian conquerors "montenegro" "black mountain" after the appearance of Mount Lovcen. The country had previously been known as "Zeta", Dioclea (srb. Duklia) and Doclea. Doclea received its name from an early Illyrian tribe. Romans "hyper-corrected" to "Dioclea" wrongly guessing that an I had been lost due to un-intellectual speech patterns. The earliest Slavic name "Zeta" derives from the name of a river in Montenegro which itself derives from an early root meaning "harvest" or "grain". (Contrary to popular belief, "Montenegro" is not Italian as "black mountain" in Italian is "monte nero" without the g.)
  • Nepal - "wool market"
  • Netherlands
    • Netherlands - Germanic 'low lands'
    • Holland (often used to refer to the Netherlands) - Germanic 'wooded land' (often incorrectly regarded as meaning 'hollow land')
  • New Zealand - after the island in Denmark
  • Nigeria - "river Gir"
  • Norway - "northern way" and 'Norege' from "Northern Kingdom"
  • Pakistan - an acronym (Punjab, Afghan frontier, Kashmir, Indus Vally) plus -stan; also happens to form the word land of the pure
  • Palestine - from the Roman name for the country, literally "land of the Philistines" ("Philistines" itself is from the Semitic root P.L.Sh., meaning "invader")
  • Papua[?] - "Land of the people with the frizzy hair"
  • Philippines - lands of King Philip
  • Poland - From the Slavic "polje", 'field.'
  • Portugal - From the city Oporto
  • Romania - 'Roman realm". As a country name, a neologism - When the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were first unified, 'Romania' was chosen to honor the ancient Romans, from whom modern Romanians tend to claim descent.
  • Russia - from an old Viking group known as the Rus, and from the kingdom they founded in present-day Ukraine
  • San Marino - after Saint Marinus[?]
  • Serbia - unknown, but probably Sarmatian in origin, derived from the name of the Sorbs in present day Germany
  • Slovakia - "glory" or "the word"
  • Slovenia - "glory" or "the word"
  • Spain - Phoenician 'rabbit coast'
  • Sudan - from the Arabic Bilad as-Sudan, "land of the blacks"
  • Sweden - "land of the Svear"
  • Switzerland - from the canton of Schwyz
  • Thailand - "land of the free"
  • Tuvalu - "eight islands"
  • Ukraine - "border territory" similar to kraijina in Serbo-Croat
  • United States of America - from "Amerigo Vespucci"
  • Vatican City 'Vatican' from an ancient root meaning "prophecy" from the name of a hill 'Mons Vaticanus', the street beneath having been used by fortune-tellers and sooth-sayers in Roman times.
  • Venezuela - "little Venice"
  • Vietnam - "southern land"



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